A Bengal Horse Artillery Officer’s Crested Helmet circa 1830
A very rare Bengal Horse Artillery officer’s black japanned and gilt crested helmet with red flowing horsehair mane circa 1830.
The helmet comprises a black japanned skull with the original cheetah or leopard skin turban terminating in a crimson silk bun at the back. To the front are a pair of diamond cut and impressed gilt name straps with “HORSE” and “ARTILLERY” on either side of a field cannon resting upon an ornate plaque. Above this is a sphinx with the battle honour Egypt and on either side ornate ribbon straps with AVA and BHURTPORE.
An ornate gilt crested comb with Medusa head mask and other symmetrical designs hold a red flowing horsehair mane , probably an old replacement, which is attached to an old woollen stuffed crimson canvass material in the form of a cylinder which sits inside the walls of the comb.
On either side of the helmet are a pair of gilt petal shaped ear bosses which secure the gilt chin scales in the double moon pattern terminating with lions paw ends secured by a hook and eye device, lined with black velvet. The interior retains its original velvet edging and leather lining onto which is sewn an old cotton sweat band with crimson silk lining.
The helmet has been sympathetically restored in my opinion and probably re japanned at some stage in its life, the interior is completely original as are the chinscales and all gilt ornamentation. The gilding is in very good condition with no obvious signs of having been regilded but the writer is somewhat surprised that no evidence of any wear to high points is visible. There are several known examples of early headdress that have survived in mint condition and therefore it is possible that this has had a sheltered life but in the interests of accuracy should be mentioned here.
None the less a wonderful visually stunning headdress to the Bengal Horse Artillery dating from the 1830’s when the Honourable East India Company Army was at the height of its splendour and flamboyance.